Associate Layoffs Come To Top 50 Biglaw Firm

Don't be distracted by Biglaw raises -- layoffs are still a real issue in the industry.

Job Losses layoffsAs salary hikes and bonuses are dominating Biglaw news, it’s easy to get the impression all is shiny and bright in Biglaw, and whatever layoffs were reported in the industry are in the past. But the latest news is a stark reminder that not every big firm is throwing money around. The American Lawyer is reporting top Biglaw firm K&L Gates is conducting associate layoffs in at least four of the firm’s offices: Chicago, Boston, Washington, and Pittsburgh.

And the thing behind the layoffs? A lack of billable hours.

“The person I talked to was totally blindsided and shocked,” said one legal recruiter, who commented for this story on the condition of anonymity. “It was a lack of work; that was the explanation they got.”

The firm’s comment on the headcount decreases indicates the overall health of the firm may not be implicated by the “personnel decisions”:

Every year, K&L Gates manages headcount based on “personnel performance, client demand and related reviews,” which typically result in “personnel decisions,” the firm’s representative said in a statement.

“This year was no exception,” the statement said, which went on to assure the firm’s financial health. “The firm is performing quite well, with year to date revenue up strongly over last year, which was itself a record revenue year for the firm.”

The scope of the layoffs isn’t yet known. But Above the Law wishes everyone who suddenly finds themselves out of work the best of luck.

If your firm or organization is reducing the ranks of its lawyers or staff, whether through deferrals, open layoffs, stealth layoffs, or voluntary buyouts, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Our vast network of tipsters is part of what makes Above the Law thrive. You can email us or text us (646-820-8477). Thank you for your assistance.


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Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter @Kathryn1 or Mastodon


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